The Pencil Project 2019

Hanna Perillo
Since 1971, Sgroi Financial has been giving back to the Western New York teaching community. Founder Joe Sgroi believed it was important to help teachers by showing support and guidance in achieving their retirement goals. Today, Sgroi Financial has successfully helped over 3,000 clients from over 130 school districts with their 403(b) plans. In 2018, we launched a promotion that awarded three nominated and randomly selected Western New York teachers the opportunity to win $750 each to use towards transforming learning experiences in their classrooms. Formerly known as the “Teacher Classroom Giveaway”, we announced the 2019 campaign as “The Pencil Project” to exemplify the message of giving back to these classrooms and their hardworking teachers. After a successful 2018 giveaway, Sgroi Financial teamed up again with our friends at Townsquare Media and 106.5 WYRK, Buffalo’s number one country music station, to promote this exciting donation to local teachers in the community. The winners for this year’s giveaway were: Alyssa Braun from Olmstead High School, Erin Weaver from Native American Magnet #19, and Rebecca Roll from Maryvale Primary School. These teachers have been so busy improving their classroom environments with the funds, and we wanted to share the great ways in how their new supplies assist their students’ education. Mrs. Braun teaches Special Education at Olmstead High School; she utilized her gift to fit the needs of 5th through 12th grade students with sensory issues in the school’s community-based program. The new items ranged from cooking utensils to hone in on teaching daily living skills, to light covers for the fluorescent lights in classrooms.  She also purchased fidgets to assist with concentration and focus, weighted vests used for calming techniques, and so much more. “I am beyond thrilled and thankful for the winnings! You should have seen the students faces light up when they saw all the new tools,” said Braun.

Mrs. Roll’s new school supplies.

Mrs. Roll is the first-grade teacher at Maryvale Primary School. She was nominated by a friend for The Pencil Project; when she got the news about being a winner, it was a total surprise filled with excitement! Roll knew she wanted to focus on making her classroom feel like a welcoming environment for the students. She purchased rugs to be spread out across the classroom floors, cubbies for students’ school supplies, flexible mats, wobble chairs, and bean bag chair for students to sit on. With purchasing the varieties of chairs for the desks, Roll wanted her students to “be able to choose their own seats in the classroom each day, it helps relieve the pressure of having to sit in an assigned seat, especially for students with behavioral or learning disabilities.” Roll’s main goal with her classroom is to always make students feel comfortable, welcome, and ready to learn. With hearing about this amazing classroom transformation, we set up a classroom visit back in February from Dave Fields and The Dean of Country. As a special treat, Dave & The Dean brought pizza for the students to celebrate the classroom additions! They each read a story to the class, and answered questions about life as radio show hosts. When the students were asked about the new classroom desks and supplies, they told us “we call the tables our neighborhoods because we work as a community in this classroom.” What a great message!

The Dean of Country & Dave Fields reading to the students.

It’s amazing to see how driven these teachers are to create a better learning atmosphere for their students, and we’re happy to be able to give back to them in this way! And to each of the hardworking, dedicated teachers in Western New York, we are so grateful for all that you provide for your classrooms, and thank you for all that you do for our community. Be sure to keep an eye out on our website and social media pages this summer when we open nominations for The Pencil Project 2020!

Mrs. Roll’s classroom Welcome Sign.


Sgroi Financial is a full service, independent financial planning firm proudly serving the Western New York area since 1971. We offer services that will help you achieve your financial goals including retirement planning, investment management, estate planning, college planning and insurance. We help individuals, families, retirees, working adults, young adults and business owners.
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